VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A person of interest in a murder investigation in Oklahoma, where four friends went missing and were later found shot and severely dismembered in a river, was found and arrested in Florida on Tuesday, police said.
Joe Kennedy II, 62, was arrested in Daytona Beach Shores on Tuesday on a charge of grand theft after he was found driving a reported stolen vehicle, Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety said in a press release.
Daytona Beach DPS said the black Toyota Tundra pickup truck was reported stolen on Monday in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, which is located about 40 miles south of Tulsa, and where a separate death investigation is being conducted.
A Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety officer was monitoring traffic with their radar gun around South Atlantic Avenue (A1A) on Tuesday morning, when her vehicle's license plate reader alerted to a stolen truck that had passed by.
The officer requested backup and conducted a traffic stop. Joe Kennedy was arrested without issue and booked into the Volusia County jail, where he is being held without bond.
Okmulgee police said in a Facebook post the district attorney and the sheriff would begin the process of extraditing Kennedy back to Okmulgee County to be questioned in the disappearance and deaths of four men there.
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In Oklahoma, police said four friends – Mark Chastain, 32, Billy Chastain, 30, Mike Sparks, 32, and Alex Stevens, 29 – were reported missing last week, and later found dead. Their dismembered bodies were reportedly found in a river.
Kennedy has been named a person of interest in the death investigation but has not been named a suspect, and has not been arrested or charged with any crimes.
"The murder investigation is ongoing and investigators continue to follow leads every day," Okmulgee police said in a Facebook post.
Billy Chastain, 30, Mark Chastain, 32, Alex Stevens, 29, and Mike Sparks, 32, are pictured in provided images by police. (Credit: Okmulgee Police Department)
Officers in Oklahoma said they discovered the dismembered remains last week.
On Oct. 9, authorities said the group of friends left Billy Chastain’s home around 8 p.m., all riding bicycles, according to Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice.
Investigators believe the men had planned to "commit some type of criminal act" before they were killed, the chief said.
That was based on information from a witness who had been invited to join the men to "hit a lick big enough for all of them," Prentice said, quoting the witness, though the chief added law enforcement didn't know what they were planning or where they planned to do it.
(KOKI-TV (FOX 23))
On Friday, a passerby reported something suspicious in the water, leading authorities to find the human remains. Prentice said investigators found the majority of the remains on Friday evening but worked through the weekend to continue recovering remains and to identify the bodies. The chief added that investigators have not found the men's bicycles.
Investigators also found "evidence of a violent event" on an adjoining property to a local scrapyard owned by Kennedy.